Hennie Meyer-CLAY FORMES




b. 1965

400g of clay

fig. hennie meyer, 400g series (2022)

Hennie Meyer-CLAY FORMES

Self-described “compulsive clay-worker”, Hennie Meyer has exhibited prolifically around the world and is one of South Africa’s most experimental and influential ceramic artists. He spent his childhood years in KwaZulu-Natal and has trained both in Australia and South Africa, developing a practice of warm earthenware and new-skin glazes. He has been working with clay since the 1980s after graduating with a Certificate of Applied Art in Ceramics (1984) and a BEd in Arts (1989) from the University of Stellenbosch. Meyer’s clayworks have been exhibited in South Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia. He is featured in numerous publications and was awarded a medal at the Fifth World Ceramic Biennale in Korea. Meyer has participated in Ceramic Art London for seven consecutive years and his works can be found in numerous private and public collections, notably those of the Iziko Museums of Cape Town, the Sasol Museum in Stellenbosch, and the Durbanville Clay Museum. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and a fellow of Ceramics South Africa.

hennie meyer



Self-described “compulsive clay-worker,” Hennie Meyer is one of South Africa’s most versatile ceramic artists. His signature style exceeds allegiances to form and texture; a career-long commitment to experimentation gives rise to a body of work adept at shape-shifting. In warm earthenware and the artist’s own milky glazes, the transformation of familiar domestic objects is an everyday miracle of repetition. Meyer is a worker of repertoires. Both in his own work and in an enduring commitment to mentoring other ceramicists, the clay-worker role of the artist is also facilitatory – attentive to form and gesture. Concerned with sequences, series, the score of the individual in the collective and the delicious impossibility of repetition, the artist reminds us that a big thing is first a lot of small things in concert. Meyer reminds us that obstacles, self-imposed or otherwise, are the mothercities of invention.

Untitled and without the promise of function, the artist’s recent experimental series is a city of things to do with one’s hands. In new-skin glazes, each earthenware form is exactly 400g. This is the defining parameter – beyond it, the scope extends anywhere. Each 400g object could be two thousand raindrops, a mother’s right lung, or the brain of a newborn. In the palm of Meyer’s hand, the weight of the average human hand. This body of work emerges as a meditation on the limits of things, and the limits as a frame for invention. The material rule-set of weight, glaze and medium permits an imaginative expansion through the 400g cubic edge. Repeated and repeated, the white cube stretches into the form that rises: a re-dreamed chess set, a specimen of sorts, a curious piece of white liquorice. These artworks are a nod towards the shared material origins of all things. Granted the same starting point, each form held up on the same ceramic plinth, a materially situated equality is imaged. But equality is not sameness. There is something both pragmatic and wistful about this. Are we talking about nature or nurture?

“In a career-defining concern for the role of the individual in the collective, this 400g series both echoes and stands in contrast to Meyer’s previous work, the functional and installation-based. “

fig. hennie meyer, 400g (1) (2022)

read more with our publication

Clay Formes

contemporary clay from south africa

CLAY FORMES is the first of its kind: a survey of contemporary clay from South Africa. This volume, through exquisite photography and literary essays, showcases multiple generations of living South African artists, each innovating the potentialities of clay and ceramics. This publication offers enthusiasts and collectors a glimpse into the studios of thirty important South African artists and opens a window into the complexity of each body of work, revealing the richness of both contemporary clay and ceramic tradition within South African art.

Hennie Meyer-CLAY FORMES_art formes_book_South African ceramics

This publication has sought to reflect its subject: to be as fluid as water and as weighty as earth. All this is done in the hopes of leaving behind a fresh approach to this manifold medium, and of presenting to the world the previously unexplored richness of sculptural clay in South Africa.

Dedicated to contemporary clay and ceramics from South Africa. The first publication of its kind, published by Art Formes.